Spalding University’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, the state’s largest fall-spring reading series, will take place Saturday, Nov. 13, through Friday, Nov. 19, with readings by faculty and guests of the low-residency graduate programs of Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. Critically acclaimed poet Kiki Petrosino, author of White Blood and winner of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature, headlines the festival as Distinguished Visiting Writer.

All readings and events are free, ticketless, and open to the public. The University’s Covid-19 protocols require all participants to be masked while indoors. Plenty of free parking is available for the campus readings.

6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 13. Faculty Reading. (Brown Hotel, Citation Room, ground floor.) Masks required for all in attendance.

  • Lynnell Edwards (poetry), This Great Green Valley
  • Rachel Harper (fiction), This Side of Providence
  • Bruce Marshall Romans (TV writing), Messiah
  • Ellen Hagan (writing for children and young adults), Watch Us Rise (with Renée
    Watson)
  • Kathleen Driskell (poetry), Blue Etiquette

SCHOOL OF CREATIVE AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING
Overview | MFA in Writing | MA in Writing | Grad Certificate in Writing
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Good River Review literary journalblog

5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Sunday, November 14. Faculty Reading. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.) Masks required for all in attendance.

  • K. L. Cook (fiction), Marrying Kind
  • Kira Obolensky (playwriting), Why We Laugh: A Terezin Cabaret
  • Dianne Aprile (creative nonfiction), The Eye is Not Enough: On Seeing and Remembering
  • Leah Henderson (writing for children and young adults), A Day for Rememberin’ (virtual appearance)
  • Sam Zalutsky (screenwriting), Seaside

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, November 17. Distinguished Visiting Writer Kiki Petrosino discusses White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia. (Auditorium, Columbia Gym, 824 S. Fourth St.) Masks required for all in attendance.

Introduction by Kathleen Driskell. Book signing to follow.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Friday, November 19. Faculty Reading. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.)  Masks required for all in attendance.

  • Jason Kyle Howard (professional writing and editing; creative nonfiction), A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music
  • Maggie Smith (poetry), Goldenrod
  • Elaine Neil Orr (creative nonfiction; fiction), Swimming Between Worlds
  • Silas House (fiction), Southernmost

The reading schedule may change without notice. Check Facebook for updated information: Facebook.com/SpaldingSchoolofWriting. For more information, email schoolofwriting@spalding.edu.

The School of Creative and Professional Writing at Spalding University offers three low-residency programs, including the flagship 65-credit-hour MFA in Writing program; a 35-credit Master of Arts in Writing, offering tracks in creative writing and professional writing & editing; and a 15-credit graduate certificate in writing, also with two tracks. The School of Writing offers concentrations in fiction; poetry; creative nonfiction; writing for children and young adults; writing for TV, screen, and stage; and professional writing and editing. Students begin the semester in the spring, summer, or fall with a residency in Louisville or abroad, then return home for an independent study with a faculty mentor for the rest of the semester. Students may customize the location, season, and pace of their studies. See spalding.edu/writing for more information, or find us on Twitter @SpaldingWriting

The 2021 Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature is awarded to Kiki Petrosino for her newest poetry collection, White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia. The Spalding Prize was established by the School of Creative and Professional Writing at Spalding University to honor a work of literature that exemplifies the University’s mission and the School’s core commitment to compassion. The $7,500 prize will be awarded in November during Petrosino’s visit to the School of Writing, home of the nationally distinguished low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program.

In a public presentation, Petrosino will speak about White Blood, which also won the 2021 Rilke Prize from the University of North Texas. Published by Sarabande Books in 2020, White Blood takes on the subject of Petrosino’s ancestral roots, along with the legacy of slavery and racial discrimination in Virginia.

The public is invited to attend Petrosino’s reading and presentation at 5:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, Nov. 17, in the Egan Leadership Center’s Troutman Lectorium, 901 S. Fourth St. A book-signing will follow the presentation. The event is free and ticketless, and ample free parking is available on Spalding’s campus.

School of Writing chair Kathleen Driskell says, “We’ve admired Kiki Petrosino’s work since her debut collection, Fort Red Border, was published in 2009, and her newest poetry collection, White Blood, is a timely marvel, resonant and inventive. We’re happy to honor Kiki and her beautiful work, and we look forward to her visit to our Spalding residency this November to accept the Spalding Prize.”

SPALDING’S SCHOOL OF CREATIVE AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING

A review by Katie Berta in Harvard Review Online notes that the book “blends the techniques of documentary poetics, erasure, persona, and traditional lyric to document and personalize the ways that descendants of enslaved people attempt to reconnect with their family histories—only to be thwarted by the persistent effects of racist policy and violence. The collection has a searching, yearning momentum that is cut by the wry intellect of a speaker who knows her pursuit of historical meaning remains subject to the same colonial forces that influenced the lives of her ancestors.”

Petrosino holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her poems and essays have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Best American Poetry, The Nation, The New York Times, FENCE, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Tin House and online at Ploughshares. She teaches at the University of Virginia as a Professor of Poetry. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Al Smith Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council, as well as the UNT Rilke Prize.

Her appearance headlines Spalding University’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, the state’s largest fall-spring reading series. The festival features readings Nov. 9-17 by faculty and alumni of Spalding’s low-residency graduate writing programs.

GOOD RIVER REVIEW | School of Writing’s literary review

Presented annually to a book, play, screenplay, or body of work, the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature awards $7,500 to the author of the honored work. Spalding School of Writing faculty members nominate literary works to be considered for the award, but members of the reading community may also make nominations by sending a copy of the book, playscript, or screenplay no later than October 1 of each year to:

The Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature
School of Creative and Professional Writing
Spalding University
851 S. Fourth St.
Louisville, KY 40203

Playscripts and screenplays do not need to be published but must have been produced on stage or in film. There is no requirement for the work to have been published recently. The School Chair and Directors make the final decisions on the awardee.

Building on the success of the university’s nationally distinguished MFA in Writing program, the School of Creative and Professional Writing incorporates the MFA program, which focuses exclusively on creative writing, as well as a Master of Arts in Writing program and a graduate certificate in writing, both of which offer tracks in creative and professional writing. Together, the three low-residency programs create a multi-tiered offering for writers seeking graduate education in one, two, or four semesters. More information can be found at spalding.edu/writing.

 

Spalding University’s Festival of Contemporary Writing – the state’s largest fall-spring reading series – will take place in a virtual format Tuesday, Nov. 10 through Friday, Nov. 20, featuring readings by faculty of the low-residency programs of Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Kevin Willmott will make a special appearance on Thursday, Nov. 19 to accept the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature.

All readings will take place virtually and are free and open to the public, but you must register separately for each event in order to receive the link to attend. The complete schedule of the festival, which is held in conjunction with the School of Writing’s fall residency, is listed below, and each session has a unique registration link.

Register here to attend Willmott’s presentation and prize ceremony, which will occur 5:30-6:45 p.m. Nov. 19.

The Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature was established to honor exceptional literary works that exemplify Spalding University’s mission. The $7,500 prize will be awarded to Willmott for his body of work in November during his virtual visit to the School of Writing, home of the nationally distinguished low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program.

Willmott, who in 2019 shared the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman, is also Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas and has spent his filmmaking career taking on the subject of racism in America. He is a frequent collaborator with Spike Lee, most recently on the critically acclaimed Vietnam film Da 5 Bloods. Willmott’s other films include the mockumentary CSA: The Confederate States of America (which he wrote and directed) and Chi-Raq, a retelling of Lysistrata in a violence-wracked neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side (which he co-wrote with Lee). The film critic Richard Brody called Willmott’s work “brilliantly imagined fictions.”

“Kevin Willmott is an extraordinary screenwriter and teacher,” said Kathleen Driskell, Chair of the School of Creative and Professional Writing. “BlacKkKlansman, which he wrote with Spike Lee and others, is the kind of work we aim to recognize with our Spalding Prize and bring to our students’ attention. BlacKkKlansman is courageous, unflinching, and beautifully written. Like his earlier work, it’s a relevant social commentary on our times.”

In 2019, the year Willmott won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay with co-writers Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, and Charlie Wachtel, the film was nominated for a total of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The screenplay was adapted from Black Klansman, Ron Stallworth’s memoir detailing his work as the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, during which he infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan of Colorado Springs. BlacKkKlansman premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix. The American Film Institute named it one of the top films of 2018.

Willmott has visited the Spalding MFA program twice before, most recently to talk about Chi-Raq. Prior to Willmott’s visit, all School of Writing students and faculty will read and discuss the screenplay for BlacKkKlansman and will view that film as well as Da 5 Bloods, Destination Planet Negro!, and CSA: Confederate States of America.

SCHOOL OF CREATIVE AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING

 

FALL 2020 SPALDING FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY WRITING (VIRTUAL READING SCHEDULE WITH REGISTRATION LINKS)

7:30 – 8:45 p.m. Eastern Time, Tuesday, November 10. Faculty Reading. Register: https://forms.gle/rcNYgyVWbpwq3QcV8

  • Rachel Harper (fiction), This Side of Providence
  • Fenton Johnson (creative nonfiction, fiction), At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life, The Man Who Loved Birds
  • Lesléa Newman (writing for children and young adults), Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story
  • Douglas Manuel (poetry), Testify
  • Larry Brenner (writing for TV, screen, and stage), Growing Up Dead, Saving Throw Versus Love
  • Lynnell Edwards (poetry), This Great Green Valley

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time, Saturday, November 14. Faculty Reading. Register: https://forms.gle/a7A8eZYbhdfz5TUWA

  • Leslie Daniels (fiction), Cleaning Nabokov’s House
  • Greg Pape (poetry), Four Swans: Poems
  • Jacinda Townsend (fiction), Saint Monkey
  • Roy Hoffman (fiction, creative nonfiction), Come Landfall, Alabama Afternoons: Profiles and Conversations
  • Erin Keane (professional writing, poetry), Demolition of the Promised Land
  • Sam Zalutsky (writing for TV, screen, and stage), Seaside (Now streaming on Amazon, iTunes, VUDU, and elsewhere)

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time, Tuesday, November 17. Faculty Reading. Register: https://forms.gle/WxGtjhYSQy2UTN1t8

  • Kirby Gann (fiction), Ghosting
  • Jeanie Thompson (poetry), The Myth of Water: Poems from the Life of Helen Keller
  • Keith S. Wilson (poetry), Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love
  • Edie Hemingway (writing for children and young adults), Road to Tater Hill
  • Eric Schmiedl (playwriting), Browns Rules
  • Dianne Aprile (creative nonfiction), The Eye is Not Enough: On Seeing and Remembering

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, November 19. Faculty Reading. Register: https://forms.gle/gtUHgDJ4jB2uNuXe7

  • Nancy McCabe (creative nonfiction, fiction), Can This Marriage Be Saved?, Following Disasters
  • Jeremy Paden (translation), Under the Ocelot Sun
  • Gabriel Dean (writing for TV, screen, and stage), Terminus, Qualities of Starlight
  • Silas House (fiction), Southernmost
  • Beth Ann Bauman (writing for children & young adults), Jersey Angel

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, November 19. Spalding Prize winner Kevin Willmott. Register: https://forms.gle/C45gD6M1Qwvd3ZLb8

  • Kevin Willmott, Academy Award-winning screenwriter. Credits include BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America. Willmott will be awarded the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature for his body of work.

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time, Friday, Nov. 20. Faculty Reading. Registration: https://forms.gle/RGjoiR4f8ADcBxBg6

  • John Pipkin (fiction), The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter
  • Rebecca Walker (creative nonfiction, fiction), Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness, Adé: A Love Story
  • Robin Lippincott (fiction, creative nonfiction), Our Arcadia, Blue Territory
  • Kira Obolensky (playwriting), Hiding in the Open
  • Charlie Schulman (writing for TV, screen, and stage), Goldstein: A Musical About Family
  • Kathleen Driskell (poetry), Blue Etiquette

The reading schedule may change without notice. Check Facebook for updated information: Facebook.com/SpaldingSchoolofWriting. For more information, call 502-873-4400 or email schoolofwriting@spalding.edu. ‘

Kathleen Driskell, Chair of the Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing and an award-winning poet, was recently elected as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), the nation’s foremost advocacy and professional organization for college and university writing programs and individual creative writers.

Driskell is believed to be the first representative from a Kentucky college or university to hold the position of Board Chair for AWP, whose membership includes more than 500 college and university writing programs, 130 writers’ conferences and centers and nearly 50,000 individual writers.

AWP’s mission is to foster literary achievement, advance the art of writing as essential to good education and serve the makers, teachers, students and readers of contemporary writing. AWP hosts ones of the nation’s largest annual literary conferences and is the publisher of the Writer’s Chronicle magazine, a leading source of articles, news and information for writers, editors, students and teachers.

Driskell, who also serves as AWP’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Council Chair, was elected to the top position on the national board of directors during AWP’s national conference last month in Kansas City.

“When one of our new AWP board members made the observation that many of us seem to have grown up with AWP, I couldn’t help remembering that I have attended nearly every annual conference since 1999 in Albany, New York,” Driskell said. “Each morning as I boarded a big yellow school bus that had come to pick us up at a Ramada Inn, tucked under a noisy highway overpass, I thought the whole thing was a marvel. I still do, and I’m honored to serve as chair for 2019-20. I promise to do my best to build on the significant legacy of AWP.”

Driskell is a longtime Spalding faculty member who has been teaching at the university since 1994. She was promoted to director of Spalding’s nationally ranked low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in January 2018 after previously serving as associate director from 2003 through 2017. During 2018, Driskell led the development of Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing – Kentucky’s first school of writing – then was named its first chair once it was established in the spring of 2019. In that role, Driskell oversees the MFA program as well as two new programs – a Master of Arts in Writing and a Graduate Certificate in Writing.

Driskell is the author of the poetry collections Blue Etiquette: Poems, a finalist for the Weatherford Award; Next Door to the Dead, a Kentucky Voices selection by the University Press of Kentucky and winner of the 2018 Judy Gaines Young Book Award; Seed Across Snow, a Poetry Foundation national bestseller; Laughing Sickness and Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem. Individual poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Greensboro Review, Rattle and Mid-American Review, among others, and have been featured in anthologies and online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and American Life in Poetry.

Driskell, a Louisville native who received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is a recipient of the Spalding Board of Trustees’ Outstanding Faculty Award. She has also served as the faculty representative on the Board of the Trustees.

Read a recent profile of Kathleen Driskell from StyeBluePrint.
Get more information on graduate writing programs at Spalding on the School of Writing blog.

Spalding University’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, the state’s largest fall-spring reading series, will take place Saturday, Nov. 16, through Friday, November 22, with faculty and alumni of the low-residency programs of Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. Bestselling graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang headlines the festival as Distinguished Visiting Writer.

Yang is the author of the Printz Award-winning American Born Chinese and the National Book Award Finalist Boxers & Saints, a boxed set of graphic novels. Yang has served as a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

Yang will deliver a public reading and discussion of Boxers & Saints at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, November 21, at the Egan Leadership Center’s Troutman Lectorium at Fourth and Breckenridge. A reception and book signing will follow. Students and teachers are particularly encouraged to attend this event.

Plenty of free parking is available for the campus readings. All readings and events are free, ticketless, and open to the public.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.) The Anne and William Axton Series, in conjunction with the Louisville Literary Arts Writer’s Block Festival, presents award-winning novelist Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You. Book signing will follow.

5 – 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17. Faculty Reading. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.)  Greetings by Kathleen Driskell.

  • Dianne Aprile (creative nonfiction), The Eye is Not Enough: On Seeing and Remembering
  • Douglas Manuel (poetry), Testify
  • Beth Ann Bauman (writing for children & young adults), Jersey Angel
  • Charlie Schulman (dramatic writing), Goldstein: A Musical About Family
  • Lynnell Edwards (poetry), Covet

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18. Celebration of Recently Published Books. Book signing to follow. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.) Introduction by Kathleen Driskell. Books provided by Follett.

  • K.L. Cook (fiction; creative nonfiction; poetry), Marrying Kind; The Art of Disobedience: Essays on Form, Fiction, and Influence; Lost Soliloquies
  • Helena Kriel (screenwriting), The Year of Facing Fire (a memoir)
  • Keith Wilson (poetry), Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love
  • Katy Yocom (fiction), Three Ways to Disappear

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20. Faculty Reading. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.) Greetings by Lynnell Edwards.

  • Erin Keane (professional writing; poetry), Demolition of the Promised Land
  • Roy Hoffman (creative nonfiction; fiction), Alabama Afternoons: Profiles and Conversations; Come Landfall
  • Jason Howard (professional writing; creative nonfiction), A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music
  • Maggie Smith (poetry), Good Bones
  • Silas House (fiction), Southernmost
  • Kathleen Driskell (poetry), Blue Etiquette

5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21. Distinguished Visiting Writer Gene Luen Yang discusses ‘Boxers & Saints.’ (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.) Introduction by Kathleen Driskell. Book signing to follow. Books provided by Follett.

5:45 – 6:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22. Faculty Reading. (Citation Room, 1st fl., Brown Hotel, 335 W. Broadway)

  • John Pipkin (fiction), The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter
  • Kira Obolensky (playwriting), Hiding in the Open
  • Robin Lippincott (fiction; creative nonfiction), Unbroken Circle: Stories of Cultural Diversity in the South; Blue Territory
  • Rachel Harper (fiction), This Side of Providence
  • Bruce Romans (screenwriting), Executive Producer of Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix and AMC’s Hell on Wheels

The reading schedule may change without notice. Check Facebook for updated information: Facebook.com/SpaldingSchoolofWriting. For more information, call 502-873-4400 or email schoolofwriting@spalding.edu.

About Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing: Spalding’s graduate creative writing school, Kentucky’s first school of writing, offers three low-residency programs, including the flagship 65-credit-hour MFA in Writing program; a 35-credit Master of Arts in Writing, offering tracks in creative writing and professional writing; and a 15-credit graduate certificate in writing, also with two tracks. The School of Writing offers concentrations in fiction; poetry; creative nonfiction; writing for children and young adults; writing for TV, screen, and stage; and professional writing. Students begin the semester in the spring, summer, or fall with a residency in Louisville or abroad, then return home for an independent study with a faculty mentor for the rest of the semester. Students may customize the location, season, and pace of their studies. See spalding.edu/schoolofwriting for more information, or find us on Twitter @SpaldingWriting.

Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing welcomes acclaimed television and film writer and producer Bruce Marshall Romans to the faculty. Romans, whose television writing and producing credits include Hell on Wheels and Marvel’s The Punisher, will deliver a lecture about writing for TV at the upcoming November residency before taking on full teaching duties with the Spring 2020 semester, when he will lead a writers’ room workshop at the May residency and mentor screenwriting students in independent study.

Romans writes and develops film and television projects in Los Angeles. His television credits include selling a variety of original drama pilots to networks including ABC, NBC, Fox, Lifetime, and FX. He has written and produced four seasons of Hell on Wheels on AMC, Steven Spielberg’s Falling Skies on TNT, Marco Polo and Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix, and Messiah, also for Netflix (to be released January 1, 2020). He is currently writing/co-executive producing a new drama, Deputy, for Fox, as well as developing and writing an original television pilot, also for Fox. His film credits include producing the independent film Blackbird and writing the independent film How You Look to Me.

A Louisville native, Romans is brother to Preakness Stakes-winning racehorse trainer Dale Romans and son of noted trainer Jerry Romans.

Learn More about Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing
Check out the School of Writing’s faculty and program blog

Bruce brings years of Hollywood experience to our programs, and we’re delighted he’s agreed to come on faculty to develop and teach a new workshop that will mirror an actual Hollywood writers’ room,” School of Writing Chair Kathleen Driskell said. “Our Spalding School of Writing students will now have the opportunity to work together to pitch ideas, break, and write episodes for an existing TV pilot in an enriching one-of-a-kind instructional experience.”

Romans joins Larry Brenner, Gabriel Jason Dean, Helena Kriel, Charlie Schulman and Sam Zalutsky on the screenwriting faculty of Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing, which houses three low-residency graduate writing programs: the nationally recognized Master of Fine Arts in Writing, a 65-credit terminal degree focused on creative writing, as well as the new 35-credit Master of Arts in Writing and 15-credit Graduate Certificate in Writing, both of which offer creative and professional tracks. The School of Writing offers intellectual rigor, emotional support, affordability, flexibility, and community at the world’s first certified Compassionate University. The low-residency model helps students fit graduate school into their lives.

The School of Writing accepts applications year-round with an early placement deadline of February 1 for entry in the Spring 2020 semester, which begins with a 10-day residency on Spalding’s campus, May 22-31, or the Summer 2020 semester, which begins with a 10-day residency in Paris, dates TBA. To apply, visit spalding.edu/schoolofwriting.

 

With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Ashlee Clark Thompson, who is earning a Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree.

When Ashlee Clark Thompson graduates this weekend, Spalding University’s MFA in Writing program will add to its list of alumni a busy and respected journalist, writer, public speaker and social media user who believes her time at Spalding has helped hone and heighten the storytelling skills she uses daily in her career.

Thompson, the Culture Editor at Louisville Public Media, said she’ll graduate feeling more confident than ever in her writing and proud of how she’s enriched the content she produces. Further, she said, the MFA program has fostered a culture of positive feedback and workshopping that inspires her to keep writing and telling stories in her personal time.

“I walked away from this program with a greater confidence in myself as a writer, and, honestly, that’s what I wanted to get,” Clark Thompson said. “It’s a program that fosters community. I’ve formed genuine relationships with people in this program, and just the general attitude with which we treat each other as writers – to build each other up and not tear each other down – has been really good.”

LEARN about all the offerings from the School of Creative and Professional Writing

Even before earning her MFA, Clark Thompson was an accomplished writer and journalist.

She has worked at LPM and WFPL since last fall, and her job includes oversight of the Do502 events calendar. She is also the author of the book “Louisville Diners” and is one of the hosts of The Moth StorySlam, a recurring storytelling competition at Headliners Music Hall presented by WFPL. She’s also the President of Louisville Literary Arts and a frequent presence on Twitter, where she posts her takes on current events and pop culture (often accompanied by funny gifs).

Clark Thompson previously worked for the tech magazine/website CNET reviewing products and appliances, and she’s a former Lexington Herald-Leader reporter.

“Journalism school was great and taught me how to be a good reporter, but I wanted to learn how to be a better writer, and there are differences in that,” Clark Thompson said. “I knew how to go find facts and interview people and work on deadline, but I needed help learning how to tell a story. Being in Spalding’s MFA program was about enriching the work I already did.”

For instance, when she was writing for CNET, Clark Thompson said lessons from the MFA program helped her find more creative and engaging ways to write reviews about appliances and technology, and she gained the confidence to write more commentary pieces.

“Spalding taught me how to have an opinion and how to write it in a story that is compelling to read,” she said. “And I was able to combine that with my journalism background to prove my points with facts. The marriage of those two made me a much better writer and much more confident writer. I learned I can tell stories in a different way.”

Clark Thompson, who concentrated on created non-fiction, exemplifies how a working professional can earn an MFA through Spalding’s low-residency format.

During her time in the program, she’s changed jobs multiple times and said Spalding was flexible in allowing her to take time off and resume when she’s ready. During those times she did need to step away, she said, faculty kept in touch with her and that she “never felt disconnected.”

“It has been an amazing experience for me because of that flexibility,” she said. “For a lot of working people, that’s the flexibility that we need. Spalding really takes into account that life happens. You can’t control ‘fill in the blank’ circumstance – whether it’s money, family, job, travel, whatever. … As a working person, it’s awesome.”

She said the Spalding program encourages its working-professional students to draw from their experiences in their writing, and collectively, the diversity of life experiences within the MFA students – some older with established jobs and families, some straight out of undergrad and beginning their careers – creates a robust learning community. Several MFA students come from jobs outside of traditional creative writing professions.

“When all these people come together for residency, it’s an amazing experience because that is such a rich tapestry that I get to be a part of,” she said.

Clark Thompson now works downtown at Louisville Public Media headquarters, only a couple blocks from campus down Fourth Street, and only a couple doors down from the MFA residency activities at the Brown Hotel.

As  Louisville native and resident, Clark Thompson said she was attracted to Spalding’s community of MFA faculty and alumni. After graduation, she envisions continuing to make quick trips over to attend MFA readings and public lectures.

“I’m super proud (to become an alumna of the program),” she said. “I want to tell people, ‘Right here in Kentucky there is this great program where you can get all this learning and do it on your terms.’ That’s what is so appealing to me. Instead of looking down on people who are may be late to writing or haven’t been writing steadily, Spalding welcomes those people.

“‘Oh, you have life experiences? Awesome, we want to teach you how to be a better writer.'”

Some more from Ashlee Clark Thompson:

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
My first workshop. Our workshop leaders at the time were Dianne Aprile and another instructor. Before we started with our workshop, they said, “The way we critique people is to give them love notes and help notes. We tell them what we love about their writing, what really worked, and then help notes of things that could be improved.” That’s something that’s really stuck with me this whole time I’ve been in this program when I approach other people’s writing but also just in general when I approach my own writing. Just being nicer to myself.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
Finishing. (Laughs)

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Probably the ELC Lectorium (which is the site for many of the MFA program’s readings and presentations). I know that, OK, when I sit here, something good is about to happen.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world-changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
I want to change my corner of the world. The world is such a big place, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the news or Twitter or whatever. But I want to use storytelling to make my corner of the world a little bit better, whether it’s sharing my own story and that maybe helping others know that they aren’t alone in whatever they’re going through, or it’s amplifying the stories of others.

 

Spalding University’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, the state’s largest fall-spring reading series, takes place this Saturday, May 25, through Friday, May 31, with faculty and alumni of Spalding’s low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing program.

The MFA program’s Distinguished Visiting Writer, Terese Marie Mailhot, delivers a public presentation on Thursday, May 30. She is the New York Times-bestselling author of Heart Berries, a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Her book was also listed as a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Library Journal, the New York Public Library, and the Chicago Public Library and was one of Harper’s Bazaar’s Best Books of 2018. Mailhot is the winner of the inaugural Spalding Prize for Peace and Justice in Literature.

Festival events will be held at Spalding’s Egan Leadership Center and the Brown Hotel, as noted below. Plenty of free parking is available for the campus readings. All readings and events are free, ticketless, and open to the public.

5-6 p.m. Saturday, May 25. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.) Reading by Spalding President and MFA alum Tori Murden McClure, author of A Pearl in the Storm, which was released 10 years ago and which recounts her solo row across the Atlantic Ocean 20 years ago. A book signing will follow. Books available for sale until 2 p.m. at the Follett campus bookstore, which is located out the south door of the Egan Leadership Center.

5:15-6:15 p.m. Sunday, May 26. Faculty Reading. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.)  Greetings by Associate Program Director Lynnell Edwards.

● Greg Pape (poetry), Four Swans: Poems
● Kira Obolensky (playwriting), Why We Laugh: A Terezin Cabaret
● Fenton Johnson (creative nonfiction, fiction), Everywhere Home: A Life in Essays; The Man Who Loved Birds
● Keith S. Wilson (poetry), Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love
● Leah Henderson (writing for children & young adults), One Shadow on the Wall
● Eleanor Morse (fiction), White Dog Fell from the Sky
● Kathleen Driskell (poetry), Blue Etiquette

5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, May 27. Faculty Reading. Celebration of Recently Published Books by Faculty. Book signing to follow. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.)

● Elaine Neil Orr (fiction, creative nonfiction;), Swimming Between Worlds, Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life
● Lynnell Edwards (poetry), Covet
● Kirby Gann (fiction, creative nonfiction), Ghosting; John Knowles’ A Separate Peace: Bookmarked
● Minda Reves (Bachelor of Fine Arts director)
● Robin Lippincott (fiction, creative nonfiction), Our Arcadia; Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell
● Julie Brickman (fiction), Two Deserts: Stories
● Larry Brenner (screenwriting, playwriting), Bethlehem; Saving Throw Versus Love

5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30. Presentation by Distinguished Visiting Writer Teresa Marie Mailhot, author of Heart Berries: A Memoir. Book signing to follow. Books must be purchased prior to the event at the Follett campus bookstore, located at the south door of the Egan Leadership Center. (Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.)

● Terese Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries: A Memoir

3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, May 31. Session I. Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni. Book signing to follow. Books provided by Follett Bookstore. (Brown Hotel, 1st fl., Citation Room, 335 W. Broadway)

● Teneice Durrant (poetry), Glass Corset
● Angela Jackson-Brown (poetry), House Repairs
● Mary Popham (fiction), The Wife Takes a Farmer
● Karen George (poetry), A Map and One Year
● Katerina Stoykova (poetry), Second Skin

4:45-5:45 p.m. Friday, May 31. Session 2. Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni. Book signing to follow. Books provided by Follett Bookstore. (Brown Hotel, 1st fl., Citation Room, 335 W. Broadway)

● Paul Ruben (fiction), Terms of Engagement: Stories of the Father and Son
● Alice Gorman (fiction), Valeria Vose
● Heather Wyatt (creative nonfiction), My Life With(out) Ranch
● Phil Cohen (fiction), Stories in a Flash
● Savannah Sipple (poetry), WWJD and Other Poems
● Flora Schildknecht (fiction), Megafauna: Stories and Screenplay

The reading schedule may change without notice. Check Facebook.com/SpaldingSchoolofWriting for updated information under the “Events” tab. For more information, call 502-873-4400 or email schoolofwriting@spalding.edu.

The School of Creative and Professional Writing at Spalding University offers three low-residency programs, including the flagship 65-credit-hour MFA in Writing Program; a 35-credit Master of Arts in Writing, offering tracks in creative writing and professional writing; and a 15-credit graduate certificate in writing, also with two tracks. The School of Writing offers concentrations in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, screenwriting, playwriting, and professional writing. Students begin the semester in the spring, summer, or fall with a residency in Louisville or abroad, then return home for an independent study with a faculty mentor for the rest of the semester. Students may customize the location, season, and pace of their studies. See spalding.edu/schoolofwriting for more information, or find us on Twitter @SpaldingWriting.

 

Literature has always held a special place in Taylor Riley’s psyche. Maybe she developed it from her mother, who read books to Taylor while she was still in the womb. Or maybe it was her grandmother, who told her she knew her granddaughter’s name would be in the paper someday. Whatever the cause, Taylor’s passion for reading and writing was evident from childhood, as she watched and reported on things she witnessed in her neighborhood.

On June 1, Taylor will graduate from Spalding University with her Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree. And in addition to serving as a 2019 class representative and receiving an Eileen Egan Graduate Award, she is already making changes in her community.

Taylor, who earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Kentucky, is currently using Spalding’s MFA education, along with her writing talent, as a voice for those living in small-town America. Working as the editor of the Henry County Local has given her the opportunity to shine a light on important local stories and issues that might otherwise go unheard and unnoticed.

“We need to be able to keep our government accountable for its actions,” she said. “Keeping the public informed, asking questions and always seeking the truth is the most effective way I know how to do that.”

While studying for her MFA at Spalding, Taylor’s desire to pursue narrative journalism became a need. She began working on a book of essays, Fearful Female, which is currently in the publishing process. The essays focus on her personal fears and how she’s overcome them, as well as broader fears she feels that many women can relate to. She hopes her book will help other women identify and overcome their own fears.

“The MFA program at Spalding really helped me sharpen and hone my writing,” Taylor said. “But it also helped me come out of my personal shell, make new connections and network with others in the industry.”

Spalding’s MFA program also left Taylor with a new passion. She will begin teaching monthly writing workshops at a local library and classes at Bellarmine University. Taylor believes today’s journalists need to begin thinking differently about their field. The internet and social media have revolutionized the news industry, and learning to adapt to new communication technologies is crucial. She wants to share her wealth of literary and journalistic knowledge with others eager to join the field.

“Spalding is the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said.

Nineteen years after launching the state’s first Master of Fine Arts in Writing program, Spalding University is announcing another first: the creation of a new School of Creative and Professional Writing, the first and only school of writing in Kentucky.

Building on the success of the university’s nationally distinguished MFA in Writing program, the newly formed School of Creative and Professional Writing incorporates Spalding’s two existing graduate writing programs—the MFA and a post-baccalaureate certificate in creative writing—as well as a newly created Master of Arts in Writing program, currently pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Kathleen Driskell, the current MFA program director and an award-winning poet, steps into the role of Chair of the School of Creative and Professional Writing.

Together, the three programs create a three-tiered offering for writers seeking graduate education in writing in one, two or four semesters, all offered in a low-residency format.

“With our existing programs in creative writing, Spalding is already one of the most innovative and affordable graduate writing programs in the U.S.,” Driskell said. “With the addition of the MAW and our new status as a school of writing, Spalding becomes one of the most innovative, comprehensive and affordable low-residency graduate writing schools in the country.”

EXPLORE SPALDING’S NEW SCHOOL OF CREATIVE AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING

Here’s a summary of the three programs:

One semester: The 15-credit-hour Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Creative Writing is earned in a single semester of creative writing study.

Two semesters: The new Master of Arts in Writing program, pending SACSCOC approval, will be offered as a 35-credit degree with two tracks—creative writing and professional writing. The latter track focuses on topics such as editing and publishing, grant-writing, ghostwriting, speechwriting and business writing. The program includes a Capstone residency.

Four semesters: The MFA will continue fulfilling its role as the university’s flagship graduate writing program, a 65-credit-hour terminal degree offering concentrations in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, screenwriting, and playwriting. The program includes a graduation residency.

The new Master of Arts in Writing offering addresses the need for writing mastery, a key for advancement in nearly all workplaces. With completion possible in about a year, and total tuition of about $20,000, the MAW degree lowers barriers of cost and time for students for whom the MFA may be out of reach. Additionally, MAW students may opt to matriculate into the MFA program, allowing Spalding students to earn a master’s degree on the way to completing the terminal MFA, and for about the same costs as the MFA program alone.

The School of Creative and Professional Writing expects to admit its first MAW students for its Fall 2019 semester, which begins in November.

“The MAW meets the needs of writers who want advanced writing study but don’t necessarily need or want the terminal degree,” Driskell said. “At the same time, our MFA students will continue to receive the most rigorous and extensive terminal creative writing instruction possible while also gaining further opportunities to be enriched by Profession of Writing lectures and the option to participate in a Professional Writing workshop during their studies.”

Like the MFA, the Master of Arts in Writing and the post-baccalaureate certificate programs are offered in a low-residency format, in which each semester begins with a residency course conducted on campus or abroad, followed by an independent study course that the student completes from home while working one-on-one with a faculty mentor.

Students in the certificate and MAW programs meet the same admission standards as MFA students, and students in all three programs attend the same residencies and are taught by MFA faculty. This arrangement allows both certificate and MAW students to advance seamlessly into the MFA program if desired. Tuition in the 2019-20 academic year for programs in the School of Creative and Professional Writing is expected to be $585 per credit hour.

READ ABOUT SCHOOL OF CREATIVE AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING’S ACCLAIMED FACULTY

For writers who have not been admitted to the MFA program, the School of Creative and Professional Writing also offers a standalone three-credit-hour course, ENG605: Advanced Creative Writing, in which the student works one-on-one with a faculty mentor. ENG605 is completed from home and does not include a residency component.

Alumni of the MFA in Writing program include a former poet laureate of Kentucky, nationally bestselling authors, feature film scriptwriters, and winners of prestigious awards in every area of writing that the program offers.

Application deadlines for programs in the School of Creative and Professional Writing are Aug. 1 for entry in the fall (November) semester and Feb. 1 for entrance in spring (May) and summer (July) semesters.

MORE INFORMATION | spalding.edu/schoolofwriting 

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